The Year of the Horse

Er ya yin tu / PL2475 .J4 1801
Guo Pu, Er ya yin tu (Beijing? 1801) / PL2475 .J4 1801

The Rare Book Collection celebrates the Chinese Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Horse with images from an edition of the Er ya yin tu. The famous Chinese dictionary/encyclopedia was first compiled during the Han Dynasty (260 BCE – 220 CE). The woodblock-printed edition above (1801) is based on the text annotated by the scholar Guo Pu (276-324), which became the preferred version during the Song Dynasties (960-1279). The RBC’s Er ya yin tu—which translates as “Approaching the Correct”—was featured in the spring 2013 Wilson Library exhibition The Encyclopedic Impulse.

The Chinese zodiac has a time cycle of twelve years, each year being named for a different animal. Those humans born in a particular year are believed to share some of the traits of its animal. And so, 2014’s babies to come are forecast to be intelligent, popular, and clever, as horses are judged to be.

Tonight is the night for firecrackers and red envelopes, as well as horses, according to Chinese tradition. Happy New Year!